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A gag name is a false name used to elicit humor through its simultaneous resemblance to a real name on the one hand, and to a term or phrase that is funny, strange, or vulgar on the other hand. The source of the humor is the pun and double entendre; frequently, the humor arises when an unknowing victim is induced to use the name without realizing the joke. Urban legend holds that such a prank is often played on substitute teachers or others who must read a roll, for whom pranksters will switch the roll with one containing such names.

Some names that would be considered gag names have been adopted as stage names by performers, often in the adult entertainment industry. Gag names can also be applied to businesses, such as Howard Stern's use of the fictitious Sofa King: in a hoax ad, the store was described as being "Sofa King great" (i.e., "so fucking great"). A January 18, 2000, FCC complaint for using the phrase was dismissed. A similar sketch was performed on Saturday Night Live in early 2007, portraying Sofa King as a new store opening after the success of Mattress King.

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Examples in fiction

An early example of a contrived name being put to comedic effect is the Abbott and Costello bit "Who's on First?", describing a baseball team with players such as "Hu" (who) playing first base, "Watt" (what) playing second, and "Otto Noh" (I don't know) on third. In the routine, Abbott identifies the players, but Costello is unable to discern that he is actually being told the names.

James Bond films often use double-entendre gags in the names of Bond girls, such as Honey Rider from Dr. No, Bibi Dahl from For Your Eyes Only, Holly Goodhead from Moonraker, Xenia Onatopp from Goldeneye, Chu Mei (chew me) from The Man With The Golden Gun, Plenty O'Toole from Diamonds Are Forever and most famously, Pussy Galore from Goldfinger. This is parodied in the Austin Powers series of spoofs on the spy genre; Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery features a villain named Alotta Fagina, who must repeat her name several times because Austin misunderstands it.

In the animated show The Simpsons, Bart Simpson frequently calls Moe's Tavern asking for nonexistent patrons with gag names such as "Amanda Huggenkiss" (prompting Moe to call out to the patrons that he needs "a man to hug and kiss") and "Mike Rotch" (prompting Moe to call out to the patrons asking if they've seen "my crotch"). The Simpsons gags were based on the real-life Tube Bar prank calls made to a bar in New Jersey.

The film The Master of Disguise (2002) featured a character named Pistachio Disguisey; this prompted film critic Roger Ebert to make a general evaluation of gag names, "the First Law of Funny Names, which is that funny names in movies are rarely funny."[1]

Examples in reality

In the mid-1970s two young men by the names of Jim Davidson and John Elmo frequently called the Tube Bar, a tavern owned by Louis "Red" Deutsch, asking for names such as "Ben Dover", "Mike Hunt" and "Al Coholic". These Tube Bar prank calls were the inspiration for Bart's prank calls Moe's Tavern in The Simpsons.

On April 13, 2003, James Scott of the Charleston, South Carolina, paper The Post and Courier reported that "Heywood Jablome" (a pun for "Hey, would you blow me?", "blow" being slang for fellatio) was escorted from the premises while counterprotesting Martha Burk's protest at The Masters Tournament. [2]

He subsequently admitted to his being "duped" by the protester, who was in reality a morning disc jockey for a regional FM radio station.[3][4]

Occasionally, real persons with a name that could also be read as a funny or vulgar phrase are the subject of mockery or parody because of their name. For example, Chinese Premier Hu Jintao, whose surname is pronounced like "who", and current Premier Wen Jiabao whose surname is pronounced like "when" has occasionally been the topic of "Who's on First"–type discussions.

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